Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fresh New Voice of YA- Holly Cupala Interview + Contest

1) How did you get the idea for Tell Me A Secret?
The idea kind of just fell out of the sky—it was after a very difficult year personally, and I almost gave up writing. But then our friend Justina Chen (who had just come out with her first novel) asked me if I was thinking of writing about it, and that opened a door. We were at a writing conference, and then we went to hear Libba Bray speak…and suddenly the whole thing flashed through my mind like a movie trailer—a story about this girl whose bad-girl older sister had died mysteriously, and she’d been holding the family together as the good daughter, and there were all kinds of secrets and a romance with a super-hot sci-fi guy—and a pregnancy to blow everything apart. So I wrote it down as fast as I could.

2) What was The Call like? Tell us all about it!
Wow, that was one of the most amazing days of my life. I was actually walking out the door to hop a flight to LA for the SCBWI writing conference when my agent called me. This was only a couple of weeks after he’d started shopping it, so I wasn’t expecting anything. But then he said there was multiple interest, and one editor had put in a pre-empt offer. My dream editor! The one who edited one of my favorite books, The White Darkness, by Geraldine McCaughrean. I was floored because I didn’t even dare hope—she’s an award-winning, amazing editor. So as I was getting on the plane, I called just about everybody I know and was floating that whole time at the conference. My husband is awesome—he sent me this gigantic bouquet of red roses, maybe 50 of them, to celebrate. What a weekend!

3) Have you always been a fan of YA, or are you still new to it all?

Well, I will confess to you that TELL ME A SECRET isn’t my first YA novel—I wrote two teen romances in eighth grade, before I actually experienced teen romance. Confession #2: when I was a teen, I consumed the gamut of YA: Catcher in the Rye to Sweet Valley High…and I’ve loved to read it ever since! My faves are Speak, Gingerbread, Fat Kid Rules the World, Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, and Ellen Hopkins’ novels.

4) What is your writing process like? Do you have any special rituals or items that you need to have in order to write (aside from laptop or pen and paper)?

Strawberry licorice. Tea, Earl Grey, Hot. A huge dose of procrastination, my favorite sketch/notebook, and my MacBook Air. I love music, but I can’t listen while I write so I fill my head and house with it when I’m not.

5) What book(s) are you reading now, or are about to start?

Right now I think I have about five going: A BLUE SO DARK, by Holly Schindler; FOR THE WIN, Cory Doctorow; ADIOS, NIRVANA (out in October) by Conrad Wesselhoeft; INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER by Julie Halpern. Plus an unpubbed one from my writing group.

6) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor?

I love that Jelly Belly sour mix. Anything sour just calls my name and I can’t resist!

7) What book(s) are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about it?

The second novel has just been released from the classified vault: tentatively titled STREET CREED, it comes out Fall 2011. It’s about a suburban girl who runs away from home—she has secret reasons for running away and there’s a lot at stake, and she ends up with this group of homeless kids on the streets of Seattle. It’s dark and romantic, another book that’s full of suspense and secrets—and what it means to love.

Thank you, James, for inviting me to visit Book Chic and featuring TMAS this week!

And thanks so much to you too, Holly, for stopping by and answering a few questions!

Contest time! I have four Tell Me A Secret two-chapter sample booklets to give away (plus a ton of swag) so if you want a copy, leave a comment on this post by June 19 at 11:59pm EST and you'll be entered. I'll pick winners randomly and you'll be notified shortly after. Please leave your email address in your comment if it's not on your blogger profile so that I have a way to contact you. Good luck to all!

Also, be sure to check out tomorrow's tour stop on the Tell Me A Secret Virtual Tour, which is at Through the Tollbooth! And there's also tons of giveaways happening on Holly's site throughout the tour, so go check it out here!


  1. Please Enter me! What a wonderful interview! I have to have my hot tea too, Earl Grey or Green Tea. Wonderful interview and loved the answers and the Jelly Belly question!

    Emma Michaels

  2. Great interview! I am currently reading Tell Me a Secret and it is amazing!

  3. I would have been really sad if you had given up writing. Yay Justina for helping you out. Great interview.

  4. Awesome interview... I wanna sign up for the contest... I have been itching to get my hands on this book.


  5. This was a great interview I'd love to be entered in the contest

    thanks for the opportunity!

  6. Please enter me! I'd love to read more of Holly's debut!

    Christina - clderwee at gmail dot com

  7. Love this interview. The only flavor of Jelly Bellys that I can't stand is the buttered popcorn, blah! I can't wait to read her books!

    -- Emily

  8. Thank you for having me today, James! And thanks to everyone for being excited about TMAS!

    Speaking of sour Jelly Bellys...whoever comments on this post or mine today (http://www.hollycupala.com) is entered to win a box - plus this week's TMAS prizes.

    I hope you enjoy!

  9. Loved the interview. Really excited about her next book coming out too. It sounds great :) I hate waiting till next fall though!!


  10. Thanks for the interview. I am not a big fan of Jelly Belly's. I once tried the Harry Potter Berty Botts Beans and oh my, I have never tasted anything so repulsive in my life. Now I don't think I could eat a Jelly Belly if I wanted to!

  11. Great interview and thanks for the contest!

    Email address:

  12. Wow great interview!! Each day I learn more and more about Holly ^.^ My email is sophiayunjin@gmail.com. I really hope I win something cool!

  13. mmm licorice and tea, wonder how that tastes like xD Can't wait for TMAS to be released!

  14. Wow Street Creed sounds interesting. Hehe I love me my books about secrets and mystery.

    Great interview! Please enter me in the giveaway. :)


  15. Great interview Holly. I'm so glad you didn't give up. I'll remember your story when I think of giving up too.

  16. Thank you for stopping by, everyone, and a huge thank you to James for hosting me! You are the best. :)

    See you at ALA!

  17. im reading swapped by a kiss! featured tell me a secret on my waiting on Wednesdays, great interview, is this international?